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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 8 August 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 2015 9 CYPRUS Across the Cyprus divide Diaspora mates a model for reunification MICHAEL SWEET Two Victorian parliamentarians met for lunch in Larnaca last week. Not in itself a remarkable event, given that the sun-kissed island is basking in its peak tourism season. But these state law-makers - former Labor MP Theo Theophanous and Natalie Suleyman, the current member for St Albans, have a bond that means so much as the island grapples with its problematic past. Their individual stories embrace the Cyprus narrative, and the symbolism of a simple shared lunch, and a shared culture, is a lesson to be learned as Cyprus looks for deliverance from division. "We had grilled haloumi and kleftiko," Mr Theophanous told Neos Kosmos. "We agreed that Natalie would have a Greek coffee and I would have a Turkish coffee. Both sketo. Of course, they were exactly the same," said the former state minister wistfully. Natalie's uncle turned up and joined them for dessert. "I had a great conversation with him, in Greek," added Theophanous. "I said to him that with so much in common, we should use the example of Turkish and Greek Cypriots in the diaspora to show ho Cyprus can be reunited to the benefit of all. "He responded in perf Greek to say how much he loved his home town of Larnaca and looked forward to spending more time there. "Meanwhile Natalie, whose family own a house just behind the restaurant, joked that if they just left the Cyprus negotiations up to her and me we'd come up with a solution in no time!" As the conversation meandered in the summer heatwave, Ms Suleyman said she looked forward to the day her family could return to their house and renovate it, to use as a holiday home. Theophanous invited Natalie to his home town of P lis in Paphos, "the best part of Cyprus" he said, before the member for St Albans cut him short: "It couldn't get better than Larnaca," she said with playful indignation. "Turkish or Greek towns, it doesn't matter. It’s love for your home town that counts most," says Theo. Who is to say that the diasNatalie Suleyman and Theo Theophanous at lunch in Larnaca. pora aren't key to unlocking 'the Cyprus issue'? They've promised to meet for lunch every summer in Cyprus and look forward to the time they'll break bread in a reunited country. Theo Theophanous was the first person of Greek Cypriot background to be elected to the Victorian Parliament in 1988. In 2014 Natalie Su- Turkey shows hands-off policy Turkey is maintaining a hands-off policy during the current Cyprus negotiations, according to the Turkish Cypriot 'foreign minister' Emine Colak. Ms Colak said that during the recent visit to the island's north by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, her impression from private meetings with him was that Ankara was sincere in wanting a Cyprus settlement. Colak said that while Tur- key "of course" had its own interests and the Cyprus issue was a major headache in terms of its EU path, "there are a lot of reasons why Turkey wants to see the problem resolved". "Turkey is not intervening or trying to manipulate or be part of specific content that is being discussed be- tween our leaders. There is no pressure, intervention or any paranoia about what is being agreed at the table," Colak added. Commenting on Erdogan's "harsh reaction" towards Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci's statement earlier this year that relations should be on an equal basis, Colak said though relations with Turkey were important to the Turkish Cypriots, they had "strong feelings that we want to be masters of our own home". Menwhile, the Cypriot leaders have turned their sights on the central issues of property and territorial adjustment that for decades have blocked agreement. Territorial adjustments and property compensation remain the most complex and divisive issues in the search for a compromise to end more than four decades of division. UN envoy Espen Barth Eide confirmed that during the latest round of talks between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, both leaders "agreed that the individual's right to property is respected". "Dispossessed owners and current users shall have various choices regarding their claims to affected properties. These different choices shall include compensation, exchange and reinstatement." Mr Eide said an independent Property Commission would be established to resolve property claims based on mutually-agreed criteria. Source: Cyprus Mail/AFP leyman was the first person of Turkish Cypriot heritage elected to the same parliament. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci (L) and President Nicos Anastasiades (R) in Nicosia with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last month. PHOTO: AP PHOTOS/PHILIPPOS CHRISTOU.
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